Karen Short always on the pulse of global trends shares tips that will help inspire and match the bride-to-be’s unique style.

Outdoor is In

The bride-to-be is on the lookout for unique destination locations. Picture the setting… beautiful landscapes, pretty gardens, a backdrop of mountains or breath taking scenery. To shelter the guests for the outdoor wedding, a beautiful chic tent is on-trend.

Greenery, the colour of the Year!

Green is the colour for all four Seasons, with Penny gum, aptly known as the honesty and money plant, in high demand. Flowers will never go out of fashion, and if decided upon as opposed to greenery this year, tightly arranged bunches are out, and flowing arrangements are in.

 Table Talk

No more mixing of table shapes and sizes, long equal sized tables create the popular reception setting. To bring through the bride’s colour scheme, coloured glassware is back, the most popular being navy blue and green. Gold cutlery remains the colour of choice. Although wedding favours have been a common sight at weddings, this year they are history.

Feast on it

Many agree that after the dress, the food is one of the most important elements of the day. Although station food is no longer on trend and menu’s are now formal and structured, Gin Bars & pink Champagne take the stage. Low maintenance yet, sophisticated, the Tapas board with a variety of appetizers or snacks remains a hit.

Take 2:

No matter how beautifully the brides dress might fit, often there’s a need to change into the back up outfit to dance into the night. Not only are brides changing their dresses, but the groom too!

Loads of Tiers

Cutting the cake is the first task the newlyweds partake in together, it’s also the focal point and centrepiece that ties together the wedding designs and décor elements.  The classic tiered wedding cake is back, its elegance is always a crowd-pleaser that never goes out of style. The higher the better!




By Word of Mouth will be hosting an annual Wedding Trend Showcase at the Polo Room at Inanda Club in Sandton on Saturday, 27 May 2017 from 10:30am.

The showcase will give brides to be a great inspiration for their big day and will offer a G&T on arrival, High Tea, cake tasting and the latest trends in wedding décor.

An entry fee of R170 per person will ensure that you don’t miss out and tickets can be booked with Zelda zelda.nhapi@bywordofmouth.co.za




Johannesburg; Friday, 3 March 2017

By Word of Mouth has launched the Karen Short Internship Program. We have offered two aspiring students both from underprivileged backgrounds an internship of 2 years.

Lucia Segoatlhe (21), and Nqobile (22), have big dreams of becoming professional chefs. Under the guidance and mentorship of Karen Short, they will learn all the aspects of the catering industry. They will be gaining hands on experience in the kitchen, the fine dining restaurant, functions as well as our venue. After their two years are completed and their progress assessed, there is a possibility of becoming a full time employee of By Word of Mouth.

By Word of Mouth would like to welcome these two talented chefs-in-training to the program.




Feb 19 2017 06:02

Sue Grant-Marshall
Johannesburg – Karen Short bursts into her Linbro Park, Sandton, offices straight off the plane from London, where she’s been researching frozen meals to ensure that, when she launches her own brand here, it’ll dazzle dinner tables.The words ‘frozen’ and ‘By Word of Mouth’ (BWOM), noted for its fresh, exquisitely presented and often unusual flavours, seem not to go together somehow.

But Short will doubtless revolutionise frozen food in the same innovative manner that she began changing social events, weddings and corporate functions in the mid-1990s.

She chuckles as she recalls soggy sandwiches and sausage rolls, presented on silver-foiled trays, being de rigueur back then. She changed all that with snacks on painted ceramics, decorated with flowers, petals and other foliage.

“You couldn’t get sundried tomatoes and pesto in SA back then,” she recalls.

The food more than matched the sumptuous décor as Short, who grew up cooking alongside her family in the kitchen of their Kloof home in Durban, developed, tested and tasted new dishes.

Short, who had majored in psychology, trained at Prue Leith’s School of Food and Wine in London, worked on yachts and in Europe, told her family she planned to return “to open a catering company like no other”.

Short, then 23, declared she was moving to Joburg. “There are no boardrooms in Durban,” she quipped. There, drawing on every ounce of her formidable creativity and courage, she dived into Egoli’s culinary waters. She began cooking on her own, in a friend’s kitchen, struggling to buy petrol for deliveries and coping with cheques that bounced.

As her reputation began to flourish, Short, for whom the word ‘creative’ might have been invented, branched out into event management services.

These included floral designing, hiring and decor, beverages and providing front of house managers and waiters.

Her rapid expansion was problematic because, instead of doing what she loved, she was running a business, hiring, firing and doing performance appraisals. “I wasn’t doing food and design. I thought of selling.”

In addition, her bookkeeper had been committing fraud, stealing R500 000 over 18 months.

Her husband, Adrian Short, became a partner, “and handled the business side, leaving me free to innovate”.

Her awards tell the story of her success because BWOM has won in the Best of Joburg awards for 17 consecutive years now. Furthermore, last year it won the 2016 international Catersource Achievement in Catering Excellence award for catering in excess of $2 million. The event was held in Las Vegas, Nevada, US, “and we were really stunned by our amazing win”, exclaims Short. “We were up against the best in the world.”

Today BWOM has a huge warehouse in Linbro Park filled with chairs, colourful glassware, tablecloths, cutlery in silver and gold, and crockery variations.

“I’m always on the lookout for new trends,” says Short. “Leeks, pies, terrines and pâtés are hot now, as well as picnic baskets,” adding that often the old tried and tested foods are the best.

She has produced frozen meals for six years now. “Some families take a full Christmas dinner to Plettenberg Bay every year.” Franchise owner Famous Brands recently approached BWOM and, in an unusual step, it bought 49.9% of the company; usually it buys the controlling share. “Together with Famous Brands we will launch a frozen meals range. It will help us with packing, distribution and a national footprint.”

BWOM has long wanted to open in Cape Town and Durban and this step will enable it to do so. They are also looking for an outlet for frozen foods in Joburg’s northern suburbs.

Short envisages frozen meals being available online and in deliveries to offices and some homes.

Her charity work involves supporting 2 000 child-headed households, as well as organisations that help women battling breast cancer.

“I never sit still,” says the mother of four sons aged between 10 and 17, who runs marathons with her friends all over the world, from Tokyo to London and New York. Most days she’s up at 5am and her energy, lively mind and restless creativity see her out of the starting blocks of whatever it is she has set her mind on.




20 Napolitaines Cookies


375g unsalted butter

500g plain flour

¼ tsp salt

Raspberry jam

400g icing sugar

Pink food colouring


In a bowl, mix the flour and salt

Add the softened butter and mix until well combined (5 to 10 minutes)

Shape the dough into a soft ball

Wrap it in plastic film and refrigerate for 30 minutes

Roll out the dough evenly, about 0.5 to 1cm thick

Cut out shapes with a cookie cutter or a glass

Place on a tray lined with parchment paper

Bake for 30 minutes, making sure not to over bake them (if the middle is no longer soft when you press it, it’s ready)

Let the cookies cool down on rack

Spoon ½ tsp of jam in the center of one cookie

Gently place another cookie on top and press lightly

Place on a grill with a baking tray beneath

Add the sifted icing sugar, food colouring and 7 tbsp. of water in a saucepan

Place on a low heat, and stir well until everything is combined and the sugar has dissolved into a thick syrup

Stir vigorously until well combined. Remove from heat.

Immediately pour or spoon the liquid over the cookies, coating them in one go

Let the icing cool until firm and enjoy!




Senior Brand Chef (Signature production

Ideal candidate

Formal Qualification from a recognized culinary institution

Minimum 5 years working experience

Minimum 2 years working experience at a supervisory level

Excellent knowledge of cooking methods, ingredients, equipment and processes

Knowledge of best cooking practices including portion control and waste management

High standard of food hygiene and safety

Own Transport

Valid driver’s license

South African citizen

Contactable references

Computer literate

Ability to read and understand Recipes

Good written and verbal communication skills in English


Preparation and cooking of a range of exclusively branded meals

Ensure production of quality and consistent food

Ensure compliance with recipes, production schedules and quality standards

Ensure food hygiene and safety standards are adhered to


R25K – R35 K based on experience


Regular working hours, Monday – Friday.














2 Tablespoons Muscovado sugar

2 Tablespoons grated ginger

1 Tablespoon grated garlic

¼ cup low-salt soya sauce

¼ cup rice wine vinegar

½ cup red wine

METHOD 1. Mix the Muscovado sugar, grated ginger, grated garlic, soya sauce, vinegar and red wine in a small saucepan. Cook for 10 minutes

2. Stir in 2 Tablespoons of grated ginger lime zest. Set aside to cool.

3. Preheat the oven to 120°C. Place the salmon fillet on an oiled baking dish.

4. Spoon 2 Tablespoons of the cooled sauce over the fish and bake for 5 minutes.

5. Remove from oven and spoon over more sauce and cook for a further 5 minutes.

6. Garnish with chopped spring onions, sliced radish and lime.

7. Sear halved Pak Choi in pan, drizzle with remaining sauce and serve with the fish.




Christmas is around the corner and here is one more festive dish that we would like to share!


66ml Olive Oil

16g Green Pumpkin seeds

16g Sunflower seeds

8g Black Sesame seeds

10g Wild rocket

2ml Sea Salt

2ml coarse black pepper

200g Danish Feta cheese

200g Avocado

600g Roasted butternut

100ml Dressing – Lemon, Honey & yoghurt

Ingredients for the roasted butternut

600g Butternut

12g salted butter

30ml Olive oil

1ml cumin ground spice

3ml Ground cinnamon

2ml Thyme

1ml coarse black pepper

1ml fine salt

Ingredients for dressing

1ml Fine salt

10ml extra virgin olive oil

10ml lemon juice

80ml Double thick Greek yoghurt

1ml coarse black pepper

10ml squeezed honey


1. Preheat oven to 180°C.

2. Cut the butternut into the desired shape and size

3. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with cinnamon, cumin &

finely chopped thyme.

4. Season with salt and pepper

5. Dot with butter and roast for 30 minutes (Toss half way

through cooking) or until the butternut begins to brown on

the edges


1. Combine all the ingredients together

2. Mix well and refrigerate until required.


1. Preheat oven to 180°C

2. Scatter seeds on a roasting tray and toast for 8-10 minutes,

until lightly browned. Leave to cool.

3. Arrange the squash wedges on a serving platter, piling

them up on top with avocado and feta.

4. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil, sprinkle with the nuts

and seeds and garnish with basil.

5. Serve with the lemon, honey and yoghurt dressing.




Festive season is almost here and it’s time to prepare for the celebrations ahead. This season is all about the family and friends gatherings, lunches, dinners and quality time with the loved ones.

Our creative team has prepared some delicious festive recipes for you to spoil your guests.


25g Castor sugar

6 eggs

175g castor sugar

200 g Belgium dark chocolate

90 ml water

12g instant coffee

1 tin caramel


400 ml double cream

2 tbsp light brown soft sugar

1⁄2 tsp ground ginger

1⁄2 tsp ground cinnamon

1⁄4 tsp ground cardamom


1. Lightly grease a 26 x 36cm baking tray with a substantial

rim and line with baking parchment. Heat oven to 180C/

160c fan/gas4

2. Separate the eggs and beat the yolks together with

castor sugar until light, and mousse like

3. Place the chocolate, coffee and water in a saucepan

and melt gently over a low heat. Cool slightly and add the

yolk mixture

4. Whisk the egg whites until stiff but not dry with a metal

spoon, fold the chocolate mixture into the egg whites.

5. Spread he mixture into the prepared tin

6. Bake for 12 minutes until the top is slightly browned and

firm to touch.

7. Cool and turn out

8. Once the roulade is at room temperature, confidently

turn over in one motion onto a piece of parchment

sprinkled lightly with caster sugar, then peel off the lining


9. Whisk the spiced cream filling until it holds soft peaks,

then spread to an even layer, leaving 2 cm along the short

edge clear. Spoon the caramel randomly all over the filling

and use a knife or spoon to swirl together.

10. Carefully roll the cake

11. Dust with icing sugar and garnish with lots of mint and








Johannesburg; Monday, 3 October 2016:  Famous Brands has acquired a 49.9% stake in the multi-awarded commercial catering company, By Word of Mouth (Pty) Ltd, advancing the Group’s strategy outlined in 2014 to expand the business into the broader leisure and consumer product space.

The purchase consideration falls below the threshold of a categorised transaction in terms of the Listings Requirements of the JSE Limited.  The transaction is subject to Competition Commission approval, whereafter all suspensive conditions will have been fulfilled.

Kevin Hedderwick, Famous Brands’ Strategic Advisor with responsibility for M&A activity, says, “Having explored an extensive range of investment opportunities in the food service leisure and hospitality sector, we are delighted to announce our partnership with the owners of By Word of Mouth, Karen and Adrian Short.  This highly acclaimed business has impeccable credentials and meets our best-in-class criteria.”

“Whilst this is Famous Brands’ first foray into this category, we are confident that our core competencies will ensure that we create opportunities to elevate this brilliant business to even greater heights,” he adds.

Hedderwick notes, “This transaction is the culmination of two years of intensive discussions and a process of gaining an understanding of and mutual respect for each other’s businesses.  The Shorts are passionate about their company and determined to ensure that our partnership will be in the best long-term interests of By Word of Mouth; they will continue to manage the business, supported by Famous Brands.”

By Word of Mouth was established in 1993 by Karen Short who identified a growing demand for high quality catering and professionally managed events.  Karen’s husband, Adrian Short, joined the business in 2003.  Over the past 23 years the company has built a reputation for excellence in the industry, having won numerous local and international awards.  By Word of Mouth offers a portfolio of services ranging from development of unique designer food and beverage menus to comprehensive event management, including conceptualisation, equipment and décor hire, floral design, and staffing requirements.

The company is based in Gauteng, in Linbro Park, and also manages a 400-seater venue, The Polo Room, at the Inanda Polo Club.  The business employs a staff complement of over 200.

Founder, Karen Short, comments, “From the outset, By Word of Mouth has strived to be the leader in producing world class cutting-edge events which are recognised for their beautifully presented food that tastes sensational, served by knowledgeable well-dressed staff in a fabulous setting.  Professionalism is our watchword in ensuring we deliver flawless, memorable events for our clients.

Our partnership with Famous Brands is a great fit for numerous reasons:  quality and attention to detail are paramount to both of our companies; we have a shared understanding of entrepreneurial, family businesses; and we are confident that Famous Brands will provide the support that we need to take our business to the next level, including establishing an offering for our clients across the country.”

“Importantly,” she notes, “we are pleased that as founders of the business we remain the majority shareholders and can continue to personally deliver our high-end, boutique service, and drive our ambition to remain a dominant force in the industry.”


Hedderwick elaborates, “In the short term we will integrate By Word of Mouth’s business into Famous Brands’ infrastructure where synergies permit and leverage their existing state-of-the-art kitchen facilities at Linbro Park.”


Over the medium term, the intention is to expand the business’s existing presence in the premium corporate market, a fast-growing segment of the commercial catering category.  Over the longer term, the goal is also to establish a footprint for By Word of Mouth in Cape Town and Durban.

Hedderwick notes, “A key aspect of this partnership is the opportunity to enter the home meal replacement retail space, through high-end stand-alone stores offering bespoke products created by Karen Short.  This retail business model will resemble the hugely successful “COOK” company in the UK, which produces ready-made meals using ingredients and techniques that ‘a good cook would use at home to ensure meals look and taste homemade’*.  I am particularly excited about the growth prospects of this component of the business because there is a strong and growing demand for an offering of this kind in the economically resilient upper-end of the South African market.”


Hedderwick concludes, “Our partnership with By Word of Mouth is a significant achievement in terms of advancing the Group’s strategic growth agenda:  it boosts our portfolio of premium brands and extends the Group’s presence into new categories.”


An Interview with Karen Short and Kevin Hedderwick on the new partnership between By Word of Mouth and Famous Brands.




*     Source:  http://www.cookfood.net/info/About-cook/